Feb. 18, 2021

Episode 2 - The One with Quantum Entanglement and the ghost of Stephen Hawking ruins the joke

We explore the bizarre world of Quantum Entanglement and break cause and effect and annoy Einstein. We make a mushroom velouté, analyse the Monkees' 1966 hit Last Train To Clarksville and analyse Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and ask if Javert was crime fighting superstar or work-shy fop.

We explore the bizarre world of Quantum Entanglement and break cause and effect and annoy Einstein. We make a mushroom velouté, analyse the Monkees' 1966 hit Last Train To Clarksville and analyse Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and ask if Javert was crime fighting superstar or work-shy fop.


In this week's podcast for a post stupid society, our Brainy Lecture looks at the mixed up world of quantum entanglement, we have gallic hat of the week, in a sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce we pass on our recipe for mushroom velouté, a sauce so reduced and concentrated just a few drops can make you change the way you vote This week’s song under microscope is the Monkees 1966 hit Last Train to Clarksville and we uncover a sinister motive behind  Micky Dolenz train based canticle. In literally the last section we ask the question was Javert in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable a crime fighting superstar or work shy fop.


You are listening to Frenzied and Sustained and I am Ian Spector and this is a




Brainy Lecture


Quantum Entanglement


This week’s brainy lecture is going to bend your mind and cause you to question whether or not space and time even exists. As a reward I have inserted a quantum mechanics joke somewhere in the lecture. I cannot tell you where as the joke does not actually exist until you listen to it. It is so hysterically funny that the geeks may even burst their elbow patches.



GCSE Physics teachers should be blamed for part of the difficulty in understanding quantum physics. The traditional model of an atom with a nucleus and electrons buzzing around the outside in nice neat orbits and in well defined shells is just plain wrong. The electrons actually occupy every possible position at the same time and are described by a formula called the wave function. If that is not abstract enough, they only seem to take a fixed position when we measure them, or what is called collapsing the wave function. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle said that the quantum world only existed as an array of probabilities and that you can never know the velocity and location of a particle; they are intrinsically unknowable.


When two particles interact with each other briefly and they acquire properties that are  somehow linked, or correlated.  


For these entangled particles, both particles when entangled are described by a single wave function that encompasses all possible

states of both particles. Now, according to the Copenhagen interpretation, any measurement of one particle

automatically collapses the entire entangled wave function, and so effects the measurement of the other particle. Now these particles could be separated by huge distances. One of these entangled particles could be in the Orion Nebula and the other could be in Muckle Flugga in the shetland Isles. Yet affecting one of the entangled twins will cause an instantaneous effect on the other, faster than the speed of light, violating locality. What is worse, this information could also be transmitted back in time thereby violating causality.


As you can imagine this did not amuse Einstein, he called it “spooky action at a distance”. And not in a nice way.


This also broke the rules of realism, the world somehow did not exist until you tried to observe it. This is why Schrodinger mocked that his cat in a box was both dead and alive. 



In an effort to demonstrate the silliness of Bohr's idea, Einstein along with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen  (a boy band called EPR as Quantum Mechanistas called them) proposed a quantum scenario that showed that in order to abandon the assumption of realism, you also had to abandon a concept at the heart of Einstein’s relativity, locality. This is where an object in the universe can only actually on an object next to it, or local to it. Thus were the sun to disappear earth would not instantly feel the loss of its gravitational pull, but that effect would travel at the speed of light to us from the sun. You must realise that EPR were being snarky here as a way to dismiss Bhor.  They said that there must be some hidden variables embedded in the entangled particles, like a secret strategy to say what each one will do in a specific situation.


Einstein and the mean girls ( as no one called them) thought this was ridiculous. They though that every point in the universe was real, physical and defined by knowable rules and values and local hidden variables that could affect each other no faster than the speed of light. 


But in 1964, Irish physicist John Stewart Bell proposed an experiment to resolve the debate. It involved entangled electron and positron pairs. When spontaneously created from a photon these particles will always be spinning in opposite directions to each other. However, until measured we can’t know in which direction either is spinning. We just know that they are opposite each other, that is they are correlated but unknown. Measurement of the spin of one of these particles tells us the spin of the other, no matter how far away the other particle is. But in quantum mechanics measurement actually affects the thing that you are measuring. Remember, that these particles do not actually determine who is going to spin which way until they are measured. If the one measured in the Orion nebula decides to spin to the left, it counterpart in muckle flugga instantly decides to spin right. That is instantly not waiting for a speed of light message to be communicated between them, instantly in a very non local way. 


Now to explain this one must also know that when we measure spin we can measure it according to any axis, but whatever we choose, the observed particle will align itself to that axis. If we measure the first one as up, its contrary friend will then be down, if we measure the first one as left, the second will be right.  So Einstein Podolsky and Rosen said then the particles had a pre-determined plan on which way to spin when observed, Bhor said they did not but were described by a single wave function that had the particles in every possible state until measured and when one is measured it instantly causes the other take the opposite spin.


John bell conceived a thought experiment to set out a sequence of observable results, the so called Bell Inequalities that we would see if EPR were right,  but if an experiment violated the Bell inequalities then local realism is also violated.


In the 1980s french physicist Alain Aspect succeeded using entangled photons and measured their polarisation. Aspect found that there was a correlation between the observed polarisation and the measurement that could not be from local hidden variables so the Bell inequalities were violated. They even did the experiment so that each entangled photon would have had to communicate faster than the speed of light. Since then this experiment has been done at greater and greater distances and they have always shown Freeman Hardy and Willis, sorry, Einstein Podolsky and Rosen to be wrong.


The chinese even did this experiment from a satellite in space and still the photons react instantly. Now personally, I thought that as soon as the experiment concluded the whole world would go dark and an enormous sign would appear saying LEVEL 2. But it didn’t. There is another practical consideration using entangled particles in security and communication. Were someone to eavesdrop on our signal and measure one entangled particle, its entangled twin would know and the intrusion would be detected. One challenge is that the photons must cross our atmosphere to reach us and they get absorbed and lose their entanglement, Consciously uncoupled, As Gwyneth would put it. In fact scientists found that only 1 in six million photons reached their targets. 1 is 6 million items reaching their intended destination actually is the service standard for Ryan Air Baggage Handlers.


So does this necessarily mean that both locality and realism are violated. Does the universe only exist when we observe it. Bell said he thought that you could preserve realism even though locality has been broken. Realism says that information cannot travel faster than light, so even though the particles seem to be deciding amongst themselves instantly we only know after the even when we measure our results. 


But some people just refused to give up on Einstein and the mean girls. The experiment involved randomly choosing which polarising filter should be put n from of which photon. Team EPR said, perhaps there is a hidden particle or field determining your choice of filter and it is not really random after all.  This could be a hidden cause deep in the past that could have nudged the questions to be  asked and the particles to be emitted. So what looked like entanglement was in fact a measurement error or an illusion. So a team in the observatory in the canary isles decided a new test to put the matter to rest.   they sent perfectly timed entangled photons between two stations 400m apart. The team send perfectly timed entangled pairs of photons from one side to the other. At the same time the experimenters collected the light from two quasars from two very far off galaxies called quasars. Instead of creating a randomiser to determine which filter to put in front of which photon they used the light from two quasars to determine which filter to put in front of each photon. As this light has been travelling billions of years to reach the Canary Isles there is no way anything could be influencing the random nature of the test. In this huge cosmic Bell test it showed that Bhor was right, Einstein and the mean girls were wrong and that quantum entanglement exists and particles are communicating faster than the speed of light.


So where does that leave us. We will just mention some of the possibilities now open to us given that nothing is real and there is only a probability that any of you exist and certainly this podcast did not exist until you decided to listen to it. And its entangled twin in Muckle Flugga reaches the opposite conclusions.




Firstly there is superdeterminism, but scientists do not like this,


Bell himself proposed super determinism. And here is how it could solve the mystery of entanglement. Bell proposed the idea of absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose everything in reality is predetermined. It cannot be changed. The reality that you live in has already happened. No matter what you say or do, nature runs like a clock unchanging. Our behaviour and decisions, including our belief that we are free to  choose, to do one experiment rather than another is absolutely predetermined. There are no real choices like the experimenter choosing to carry out one set of measurements, rather than another. There is no real randomness. If this is the case, the mystery disappears. There is no need for faster than light signals to tell particle "A" what measurement has been carried out on particle "B" because the universe including particle A already knows what the measurement will be. It is predetermined. Could this be the real reality? Could Einstein have been right all along….that God does not play

dice with the universe, that all time and all fate is predetermined? 


Secondly we may actually have to give up space and time with the universe made up of little particles of space and time and turn to the holographic universe. What if the only world that existed was the quantum existence of entangled particles. Our universe could be an abstract mathematical surface infinitely far from our location projecting inwards our familiar holographic spacetime. This would solve the problem of entangled particles’ non-location as space itself disappears.


Next up for weirdness of the week are wormholes. Here the entangled particles that are non-local in our space time are dimensionally linked through through Einstein-Rosen bridges, the wormholes of science fiction. These allow instantaneous contact even at enormous distances



In s sub-sub section we are calling “I can’t do it whilst you are watching” we turn to entangled particles and the double slit experiment.


You may remember this from your physics class, you pass light laser light through two narrow slits and an interference pattern appears on the screen, i.e. the photons’ light waves align so that where the crests of the waves line up with the crests of the other wave yogurt a bright patch on the screen, where the crests line up with a trough they cancel each other out and you get a dark point. Thus the screen gives you the familiar pattern of light and dark bars, like a cosmic barcode.


Where this gets super weird, and a weirdness that has occupied me for most of my life, is that when you pass just one photon at a time through the slits you still get an interference pattern. Successive photons will slowly land on the screen and build up the same striped pattern. As this pattern is caused by the photon interacting with another photon, clearly what we must conclude is that the photon actually goes through both slits at the same time and is interfering with itself. 


Any attempt that we make to work out which slit the photon went through immediately causes the pattern to disappear. It seems like the universe does not want us to know. No matter how the experiment was conducted, not matter how minimally invasive, the photons knew that they were being watched and refused to give the interference pattern.


So someone had the brilliant idea of using entangled photons. You do not need to interfere with the photon at all as we can examine its entangled twin to deduce which slit its partner went through. So they put the experiment together with a crystal in the light path that would cause two entangled photons to be created. This time when we measured the entangled twin and did nothing to the other photon, the pattern still collapsed. Somehow they were communicating “the monkeys are watching so stop all your quantum antics lest they work it out”.


But the scientists had another trick up their sleeve, they waited until the first entangled photon hit the screen then measured the entangled twin. Staggeringly, the interference pattern still disappeared. Think about this, the photon had already landed on the screen then later the entangled twin was measured and the pattern disappeared. This was actually going back in time to change its behaviour, thus breaking causality. So they tried one further experiment, add a scrambler after the detector so we no longer know what happened. When this was done, the pattern came back. So a delayed choice quantum scrambler after the event can cause the particle to go back in time and go through both slits like it loves to do.


It looks like the simple act of scrambling the which way information retroactively sends a message back in time and says to the photons younger self, its OK, the monkey loses the information about which slot we went through, its safe to go through both again. This really seems to imply that observation of the path causes the wave function to collapse and that the wave function can collapse all the way back to wherever our new knowledge extends to in the past some sort of retroactive reality cascade.


So not only have we ticked off Einstein today by showing that spooky action at a distance is real, we have also broken causality, a future event allows history to be rewritten.  


One of the aspects of wave functions that scientists don’t really like is the fact that the wave function collapses for us to make an observation, thereby crystallising one of the possible realities. But what if it is the case that the wave function does not collapse at all but every possible world exists at every possible choice that there is giving a number of world that is unfathomably huge, and hugely expanding. Now scientists are very sceptical of this, but they do love the simplicity of not having the wave function collapse. Science tends to find that simpler solutions last longer than more complex ones.


In doing my research I came across a definitive research paper from 2009 called Road to the Multiverse by quantum pioneer, Seth McFarlane. Here a young scientist called Stewie reveals to his talking dog, Brian, that he got his prize winning pig from a parallel universe. Stewie shows Brian the remote control that allows access to various parallel universes.


Each universe depicts Quahog in the same time and place but under different conditions. Deciding to test the device, they both visit a universe where Christianity never existed, so the Dark Ages never occurred and thus humanity is 1000 years more technologically advanced (despite the existence of the Sistine Chapel in that universe, albeit done by John Hinckley Jr. instead of Michelangelo). 


They end up in a universe where humans are subservient to dogs then Brian the dog does not want to leave so they fight over the remote control and break it but they meet dog Stewie who has invented his own universe surfing machine so that they can get back to their original universe. Just as they are being transported, human Brian, dreaming of a better life in a world of intelligent humans, leaps into the inter-universe portal at the last moment and successfully makes it to the original universe with the other two. Excited about his new prospects in life, human Brian begins his travels in a brand new universe but is abruptly struck by a car. 


This adds further evidence that the universe is not to be messed with.


Hey, you are still here, here is the joke I promised you. 


  • Heisenberg and Schrödinger get pulled over for speeding.
  • The cop asks Heisenberg "Do you know how fast you were going?"
  • Heisenberg replies, "No, but we know exactly where we are!"
  • The officer looks at him confused and says "you were going 108 miles per hour!"
  • Heisenberg throws his arms up and cries, "Great! Now we're lost!"
  • The officer looks over the car and asks Schrödinger if the two men have anything in the trunk.
  • "A cat," Schrödinger replies.
  • The cop opens the trunk and yells "Hey! This cat is dead."
  • Schrödinger angrily replies, "Well he is now."


Hat of the week

 frénétique et soutenu 

The beret is not really much more than a circle of fabric, so it really has been around in some form for perhaps 4000 years. In fact some people say that Noah found a trampled bit of wool on his ark and stuck it on his head. Personally I have doubts about this story. Given that all animals are roaming around his decks and well trodden piece of wool would likely to completely soaked in contents of a gazelle’s bowel just before the leopard ate it. Honestly, the whole ark adventure was very poorly thought through. According to Richard Digance  Noah was deaf  and what god actually said was go build a Park.


Anyway, by the 15th century its cheap manufacturing costs and simple design mad it a favourite of the poorest classes.We have to wait until 1835 for the word Beret to appear.


The history of the military wearing beret is long and literally coloured. The Scottish Blue Bonnet was a symbol of the jacobite forces but the French Chasseurs Alpin in the Pyrenees were the first regular military unit to adopt the beret. Nowadays the British Tank Corp wear black berets, the paratrooper regiment wear maroon berets, the commandos the green beret and the US special forces wear a darker green beret. The key reason so many military forces wear the beret today is that the French are a bit annoying and we may need to invade at a moment’s notice, and the beret would allow them to blend right in.


Sauce of the week



15g dried ceps or porcini

2 tbsp olive oil

1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped

250ml Noilly Prat (or other dry vermouth)

500ml chicken stock 

250ml double cream



put the dried ceps in a cup

pour on enough boiling water to cover and leave to soak.


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil gently in a cast iron pan or a pan with an thick aluminium base 


add the shallot and a little salt and pepper  and cook gently for around 7 minutes, stop if the onions are browning, we want them to go translucent and soften. Stir occasionally to stop them catching. 

Add the vermouth to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any onion sticking to the bottom’

Let the liquid evaporate until the pan is almost dry, remember we love to concentrate flavours. The evaporating vermouth smells divine so turn off your extractor fan and enjoy it.


Scoop out  the ceps from their liquid and add to the pan

slowly pour the mushroom soaking liquid into the pan, but stop short of letting the grit go in.


Add your chicken stock, bring to a vigorous  boil

When the volume has halved add the cream and keep boiling the mixture.


Keep boiling until the sauce has the consistency of a thick cream


Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.


I strain mine into a small stainless steel saucepan and I just leave it to cool whilst I cook the rest of the meal.


When I need the velouté I simply warm it up and adjust the seasoning and pour it around my fish or chicken, or just add it to my fresh tagliatelli.


The onion and mushrooms that end up in your sieve make a delicious omelet


Epicure Dried Porcini

Natoora Dried Wild Mushroom Mix


I know how popular these podcasts are with the uncontacted Arrow people in the Amazonian basin and you find it hard to get a slot on Ocado, well Tesco will home deliver, sorry, can we do that again, Tesco will Tree deliver Cooks and Co Dried Porcini Mushrooms or Cooks and company dried forest mushrooms, both of those are 30g and cost £3 or just over 22 Brazilian Reals.


The intensity of flavours in this sauce (velouté means velvet) are mind blowing at you might be tempted to lick your plate. Please don’t, it is unseemly.



As you know, I did not want to commercialise this podcast as we need to preserve our editorial integrity, even so, my producer says that our Adobe Audition licence needs paying so I have to read this advert.


“Are you tired  of all your birthdays happening at once, irritated that you can’t spot that there is a relationship between the diameter and the circumference of a circle, perhaps you are confused when god told you to build the ark 300 cubits long, well we are introducing numbers. You can use these numbers to actually represent the quantity of your things. No more yelling out “Help I am being eaten by lion, now you can more accurately shout I am being eaten by three lions. Hilarious. Tired of the tune of your times tables, n n is n, n n is n, now you can add the lyrics and soon you will be amazing your friends with 2 2s are 4.  That song is bound to go straight to n in the UK’s top n.

From now on don’t count on Ocado delivering all your bananas, count on numbers.


Songs under the microscope


Today’s song to receive our forensic glare is ‘Last train to Clarksville’ the 1966 hit for the Monkees.


And straight out of the trap there is a huge red flag that Monkees’ drummer and lead vocalist Micky Dolenz was not that into whoever he was calling. He is very clear, do not take the first train or even the next train, make sure that you only take the last train. One might safely deduce that he had another rendezvous before this one. Maybe they also got a song and their’s started ‘Take the 1130 to clarksville”.


But he could not leave this to chance, maybe in their exuberance they too would take the 1130 train and there would be an almighty kerfuffle on the platform in Clarksville station. So how does Micky Dolenz continue, Take the last train to Clarksville and I’ll meet you at the station. He will meet him or her at the station. Not on the platform, not by the Oyster card reader on the exit gate, the station. Micky Dolenz, voice of snuggle bear fabric softener, clearly did not want to pay for short-term parking and was sitting in the car park in his car.


So, you can be here by 4:30. Cause I’ve made your reservation. Now either way you  consider this, it is not a good look. Is she arriving at 4:30 in the afternoon or the following morning? But boy is he controlling. What if he/she had something on. But note, he makes the reservation but does not buy her a ticket. I guess with all the women he has coming in to Clarksville station, it would be prohibitively expensive to buy them all tickets.


Micky continues, don’t be slow….Rude.

‘Cause I’m leaving in the morning and I must see you again


and he later expands on that sentiment by singing And I don’t know if I ever coming home


So, Micky Dolenz is claiming that he is about to go on a train to the Vietnam war, that he will probably be killed and never make it back.


This was a grotesque fabrication. Micky Dolenz, lead singer of the Monkees, suffered from a medical condition called Perthes disease affecting the hip on his right leg leaving his leg both weaker and shorter than the other. He even had to rearrange his drum kit to play right handed, left legged. But his drumming is not the issue. There is no way Micky Dolenz would be drafted into the army. He was not going away to war. Now, he was careful to only speak in suggestions. He did not say that I am about to go to fight in vietnam and there is a 37% fatality rate for my unit. He said I am leaving in the morning, we’ll have time for coffee flavoured kisses and a bit of conversation before, presumably he gets his leg over. Albeit a short crippled leg over.


Not convinced. Micky the limp is not finished. 


Take the last train to Clarksville

Now I must hang up the phone

I can't hear you in this

Noisy railroad station, all alone


He is already in the station, presumably meeting more women/men .


But suddenly he sees one of his gullible girl/boys arriving so he hastily says “I can’t hear you in this noisy railway station’ ’ALL ALONE.”


If you call your wife from a business trip and say I have got to go I can’t hear you in my hotel room all alone, with no one else in the room, just here, by my lonesome. 


So Micky, take your coffee flavoured kisses and your horribly deformed limbs and sling your hook. You have been weighed, measured and found wanting.





Literally the last section



This week we look at Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Miserables, and I have with me my first edition of the book. The book looks huge and daunting so I will be relying on Cameron Mackintosh’s 1985 english language musical production.


The story seems to concern the notorious bread thief, Jean Valjean, who stole bread and got caught and spent 19 years in Jail. He finally got parole and a kindly Bishop took him in, but Jean Valjean robbed him, and again got caught (so much for the theory that jail is a crime university, he seems to be as crap at crime now than when he first got bang-up). The super efficient policeman Javert brought him to the Bishop’s house but the bishop perjured himself and said the silver was not stolen and gave him some silver candlesticks as well. 


Jean Valjean then decided to break his parole and go underground to reinvent himself. 


Eight years later, javert is still chasing jean valjean, presumably at the expense of every other case he had to work on. Basically he spent the entire play chasing the comestible plunderer. You can imagine the scene in the station : • hey javert, go and investigate allegations of market manipulations in falsely creating a short squeeze in GameStop  stocks, “oh no, I am busy chasing the Parisian baguette blagger”


Valjean is now a wealthy factory owner and Mayor of Montreuil sur mer. Under his nose in the factory, his factory foreman is sexually mollesting all the girls. Fantine is a girl who resists foreman so the other workers despise her. The other workers steal a letter from Fantine that gives away her secret that she has a daughter. The foreman uses this as an excuse to fire Fantine. In what way is the factory owner, valjean, not responsible for this toxic work environment where his foreman was probably raping the vulnerable staff. And jean Valjean is depicted the hero of this pre-woke rapefest.


So Fantine decides to sell her hair and her teeth and become a prostitute. Now this choice was not fully explored in the West End Musical production but I would have thought the whole bald, toothless prostitute market rather….niche. Unless her market research had shown that there was a significant demand for this kind of gummy fetish she might have wished to maintain a wider market appeal. The book, well at least the musical was silent on the point of whether Fantine was classically trained in marketing. Fantine then reflects that her life did not turn out exactly as she hoped and sings a lovely song called “I dreamed a dream”. Surely with a beautiful singing voice like that she would have tried to get a job in musical theatrical productions before testing out fringe fantasy sexwork.


Valjean, world’s worst criminal, gets himself arrested by Javert but asks for time to fetch Fantine’s daughter. Javert understandably refuses but valjean attacks Javert and escapes. 9 years later Javert finds Valjean in Paris and Valjean goes on the run again. meanwhile, all sorts of crime is going uninvestigated as Javert continues his obsession.


Now there is a huge riot and the students barricade the street and Javert is now a government spy and gets captured by the students. Wherever there is lawlessness you can be sure that valjean will be around. And sure enough, in return for killing a sniper and as a reward he asks if he can kill Javert. Instead valjean releases javert. This is just too much for him to compute so Javert kills himself.


The question I have is why Valjean is portrayed as the hero. He is a serial thief, directly responsible for the women in his family being sexually assaulted, Fantine wassummarily dismissed for refusing to acquiesce to a rape and died as a direct consequence. Valjean was again involved in a treasonous uprising and shot a government soldier. 


It is interesting to note the language Javert uses to describe Jean Valjean, he is Dangerous, powerful, great physical strength, general menace. This is very reminiscent of Trump’s description of the caravan of migrants coming over the southern border. So if people vote for law and order and against marauding anarchists, why does everyone side with Jean Valjean and not javert. They seem to vote Javert yet sing catchy show tunes with Valjean.


Both Valjean and Javert came out of destitution yet both reached success in life but Javert did it whilst not breaking the law. This injustice felt by Javert, of his life of virtue and diligent (one man’s diligent is another man’s obsession) pursuit of justice yet everyone ends up loving Valjean, rubbish thief and rape factory owner. Thus Javert committed suicide, he could not come to terms with the fact that Cameron Mackintosh wrote him to be the villain, whilst thievy mc Rapeface got all the songs in the major keys.


And that is the end of Literally the Last Section and is also the end of this week’s podcast.


In next week’s podcast we ask if gravity is real and if it isn’t (IT ISN’T) do we still have to obey its laws. Our song under the microscope is Billy Rae Cyrus’s Achy Breaky Heart, we ask how medically accurate is it. A sauce a sauce my kingdom for a sauce turns the béchamel on its head and literally the last section discovers than some place names with the word new in them are not actually new at all. We set about fixing them.


Please write a review of Frenzied and Sustained. I do realise that all of you listening are both subscribed to this podcast and not subscribed. Please could you press the subscribe button and collapse the wave function. You may as well, in one future, you already have.